Concept of Groupthink

Groupthink is a mode of thinking, which individuals engage in when
involved in a cohesive in-group, the moment strivings of members for
unanimity become overridden by their motivation of realistically
appraising alternative courses of action. It is a concurrence-seeking
trend, which can hinder collective decision making processes and result
in poor decisions, which induce fiascos (Choi & Kim, 1999).
The concept of a groupthink focuses on the tendency for cohesive groups
in becoming so concerned about group solidarity, which they fail to
realistically and critically evaluate their decisions and assumptions
leading to the decisions. This fatal flaw in group decision making takes
place when certain antecedent conditions, high or moderate group
cohesiveness, are present. The antecedent factors are categorized into
two: provocative situational contexts and structural faults of an
organization (Kowert, 2002). The two categories of antecedent factors,
along with group cohesiveness, make the foundation of groupthink that is
manifested by eight symptoms. These symptoms lead to symptoms of
defective defective decision making, which lower the likelihood of
successful outcomes. The primary elements of a groupthink entail group
insulation, lack of a tradition of impartial leadership, lack of norms
requiring a methodical procedure, and group homogeneity.
One of the symptoms of groupthink is the illusion of invulnerability.
This is an illusion that is shared by most members or all members. This
illusion creates additional optimism, thus encouraging the taking of
extreme risks (Wilcox, 2010). Belief in inherent morality of the group
is another symptom of groupthink. This is a shared belief, which make
members ignore the moral and ethical consequences of the decisions that
they make.
Groupthink also has the symptom of collective rationalization. Members
have collective efforts of discounting warnings or other information,
which may make members reconsider their assumptions prior to
recommitting themselves to past policy decisions. Stereotyping of
out-groups is a common symptom to groupthink (Wilcox, 2010). Members
have the tendency of viewing opposing groups as being too evil to
warrant genuine attempts of negotiating with, or as very weak to counter
whatever risky attempts made in defeating their purpose.
Apart from these symptoms, groupthink has the symptom of
self-censorship. When members deviate from the apparent group consensus,
voluntary censorship of one’s own opinions is common. Besides,
groupthink has the symptom of the illusion of unanimity this describes
a shared illusion by members regarding judgements that conform to the
majority view. Here, there is a false assumption that silence implies
consent. In addition, there is a symptom of direct pressure on
dissenters. Members that express strong arguments against the group’s
stereotypes, commitments, or illusions are faced with direct pressure,
which indicate that their dissent is contrary to the expectations of all
loyal members (Wilcox, 2010). Furthermore, the groupthink has the
symptom of self-appointed mindguards. There is protection of the group
against adverse information, which may shatter its complacency regarding
the morality and effectiveness of its decisions.
The concept of groupthink can be apparent in any organizational setting,
where groups become faced with making of urgent, crisis-laden decisions.
An example, where groupthink was involved include the naval
commanders’ perception of the Pearl Harbor as impregnable, prior to
the entry of the U.S. in the World War II (Kowert, 2002). The naval
commanders believed Japan to be inferior, which was a shared stereotype.
Besides, the U.S failure of anticipating the Bay of Pigs invasion
constitutes another example, where groupthink was involved.
Choi, N.J. & Kim, U.M. (1999). The Organizational Application of
Groupthink and Its Limitations in Organizations. America Psychological
Association Vol. 84 (2).
Kowert, P. A. (2002). Groupthink or deadlook: When do leaders learn from
their advisors?. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.
Wilcox, C. (2010). Groupthink: An impediment to success. Bloomington,
IN: Xlibris Corp.

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